As a part of the Villanova University Literary Festival, co-sponsored by the English Department, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Falvey Memorial Library (among a slew of other departments), Brit Bennett will visit Speakers’ Corner on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m., providing you the perfect opportunity to bring your bae to a romantic evening of intellectual discussion and fiction reading.
The traditional “Dig Deeper” post includes a number of the author’s primary texts and a few scholarly articles for thinking through the author’s work. Bennett, however, as a new author presents a series of difficulties as far as building this kind of post goes.
First, her work is so new that scholars haven’t yet incorporated it into their theoretical pieces. Second, Bennett is very forthcoming about the aims and intentions of her work, especially so in her essays titled “I Don’t Know What to Do with Good White People” and “Ripping the Veil,” which means I can’t provide you with philosophical musings for thinking through what she might mean.
The novel itself – The Mothers – uses a fresh and much needed narrative voice to depict the black, middle-class life of its characters. According to an interview with Fusion, The Mothers took Bennett a long period of writing and re-writing to complete, and it mirrors her own life so far in a few crucial ways. Without spoiling anything too much, you should know that it’s available through interlibrary loan currently, and will arrive in the Falvey’s collection in the coming weeks.
Bennett herself was born and raised in southern California. She attended Stanford University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. From there, she moved east to earn her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan.
As a graduate student myself, I can tell you that the jump from graduate school success to gracing the pages of Vogue, Essence and the New York Times must have been one shocking journey. It all begins, however, with engagement.
Bennett took a topic important to her – racial issues in America – and set herself to writing the most informed pieces about that topic. So far she has produced the “Good White People” piece from above and The Mothers (as well as a piece in The New Yorker praising the work of Ta-Nehisi Coates).
All of these pieces weave a fine strand through the young career of one of the literary world’s up-and-coming stars. Bennett’s central concern is the resolution of some of the racial issues plaguing 21st-century America. Here are a few links for you to dig deeper into the fields of race and trauma theory, curated by our English & Theatre Librarian, Sarah Wingo:
- “Race-based Traumatic Stress“
- The Women of Katrina: How Gender, Race and Class Matter in an American Disaster
- Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the Formation of African American Identity
- Cultural Melancholy: Readings of Race, Impossible Mourning, and African American Ritual
- “Memory, Cultural, and Difference: Critical Reflections”
- “Race, Trauma, and Suicide Attempts: Comparing African American, White, and Hispanic People with Severe Mental Illness”